How Many Years Will a Total Knee Replacement Last

How Many Years Will a Total Knee Replacement Last?

Choosing to have a total knee replacement is a big decision. If you and your doctor are discussing whether knee replacement surgery is the right choice for you, you’ll likely have numerous questions about the procedure. One of the most common questions patients have is: how long can I expect my knee replacement to last?

Studies conducted on patients who received complete knee replacements have found that 85-90% of knee implants will last for 15 to 20 years or longer. This means that whether you may need a second knee replacement surgery will often depend on your age when the first replacement is performed. 

For patients with knee replacement surgery relatively late in life, needing a second replacement procedure is usually not an issue. As you age, you naturally put less stress on the knee joint: you are less likely to engage in vigorous athletic or physical activities and less likely to put your knees through a lot of weight-bearing exercises. Your knee joint will not experience a lot of wear and tear.

If you are young when you get a knee replacement – perhaps as the result of a sports injury – you may have to resign yourself to needing another knee replacement surgery some time in the future, particularly if you plan to carry on with playing sports. 

The more problematic case is the patients in the middle: people who need a knee replacement when they are just past middle age and have a life expectancy much longer than an additional two decades. 

However, it should be remembered that the studies showing that prosthetic knee joints last 20 years are necessarily based on implant devices that were available at least 20 years ago. Since prosthetic knees are constantly being improved, today’s prosthetic knees may last longer.

If you are worried about the longevity of your knee replacement, there are some precautions you can take to increase the longevity of your joint replacement and decrease the likelihood of requiring a second replacement procedure.

Maximizing the Lifespan of Your Knee Implant

Minimize High-Impact Activities

The same activities that damage your body’s natural joints will also cause artificial ones to wear out more rapidly; for example, exercises such as running and jumping increase the amount of force applied to the joint. Over time, this strain will damage the implant.

However, even though high-impact activities should be avoided, staying active is still essential for health and mobility. Low-impact exercises like cycling, stationary weightlifting, yoga, swimming, and walking are all excellent ways for patients to preserve their strength and range of motion without sacrificing joint health.

Identify Underlying or Pre-Existing Conditions

Patients who suffer from conditions such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis are more likely to experience failed knee replacement surgeries. These conditions cause the weakening of the joints and bones, which means that fractures more easily occur. Fractures can negatively affect joint replacement. In addition, medical conditions that cause increased susceptibility to infections can cause complications post-surgery that may require a second surgery to correct.

Finally, patients with conditions that limit blood circulation in the lower body can experience longer recovery times and potential complications since the decreased circulation negatively impacts the body’s ability to heal. However, if conditions are identified before surgery, you and your care provider can create a treatment plan to mitigate that risk.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

In the same way that high-impact activities cause increased wear on joints, carrying extra weight also causes implants to deteriorate faster, simply because the knee joints have to bear much of your body weight. Patients do not need to maintain an excessively low weight; any weight loss that lessens the load on the knees can positively impact joint health.

Your orthopedic surgeon can advise you on whether your weight could decrease the lifespan of your implant. If your doctor believes weight loss would benefit your prognosis, several resources are available that can help you control your weight.

Limit Lateral Movements

It is challenging to avoid lateral movements altogether, but they can put unneeded stress on your implant. Your physical therapist will work with you in controlling lateral movement and strengthening your muscles to support the joint. But the strain associated with quick lateral moves can cause damage to the implant and the existing soft tissues in the knee. Therefore, sports requiring significant lateral movements should be minimized unless your doctor advises otherwise.

As medical advancements continue to evolve and develop, patients can expect to see the lifespan of prosthetic replacement joints, including knee joints, increase. To find out more about complete knee replacement surgery and whether it could solve your knee pain and mobility issues, contact Tchejeyan Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine today.